Distance: 17 miles
Weather: drizzly morning, showery afternoon (some quite violent), but some brief sunny spells
Number of sheep incidents: 2
I might have been a bit over-optimistic when I said we'd be awake until at least 8 last night. There was much tiredness going on in our tent, and much sleeping took place overnight, so much so that neither of us could say whether it rained.
We certainly know that it was raining at 6am though, which didn't bode well for the day ahead.
As it turned out, by the time we left the excellent Erwlon campsite (fantastic facilities and a bargain for backpackers) the rain had passed and the morning turned out to just be a bit on the drizzly side.
Out of Llandovery (which turned out to be a bigger place than I expected) our way was along little lanes, joined by a section of track, for 4 miles, through rolling green grazing land. It was along there that the first sheep incident occurred as three ewes and three lambs had escaped from a field and did what most sheep do when they see people approaching - they ran away from us, along the road. Unfortunately with the road fenced on either side, giving us no way to skirt them and giving them no escape route, we herded them so far that I began to have visions of us walking into Conwy with six sheep ahead of us. Finally, we were saved from our sheep-herding when a farmer happened to come out of his house just as the sheep were about to pass, and with some skillful arm-waving he managed to turn them back in the right direction. He told us that the farm they had come from was a good couple of miles back along the lane.
Onwards along tracks we went to pick up a path along the River Tywi. We had to cross a field to reach the riverside and just as we were about to go over the stile to exit the field I happened to look back the way we had come, only to notice that the field gate was open and one sheep had already wandered out. Eeeek! Down to the ground our packs were flung and we legged it back across the field. Fortunately only one sheep had escaped and we soon had it back on the right side of the fence. The second time, we made absolutely sure that the clasp was secure.
To recover from the second sheep ordeal in 2 miles, an early elevenses was taken alongside the picturesque river. A bit premature as it turned out as, had we walked just a little further, we would have found some benches.
The surroundings now were more rugged and, well, Welsh-looking, as we continued to follow the river along some delightful paths (plus a few lane sections which always involved gaining lots of height only immediately to descend back to the river - it's been a bit of a theme of the last couple of days).
Lunch was had overlooking the tumbling, falling out-flow from Llyn Brianne Reservoir, as it falls into the River Tywi. That's one of the photos above. It was a lovely lunch-spot, not even marred by the showers which passed through every few minutes. The next shower after we got going again wasn't so friendly. And coming from the north too - surely we should be enjoying southerly winds?
More showers battered us as we walked the length of the Doethie valley, but even that couldn't disguise what a stunning valley it is (the other photo above is looking back along a section of the valley). If you haven't walked it then I'd say that it's a worthwhile outing.
We weren't the only people walking it either. A group of twelve passed us, going south, and we had another chap within our sights for the entire length.
He had just disappeared into a shed at Ty'n y Cornel when we got there and, sticking his head out of the door, he asked if we would like a cup of tea. Did we ever!
It transpired that he is Neville, the volunteer warden this week at the hostel, which having been sold off by the YHA in 2007 (and thus no longer marked as a hostel on the map) was saved by the Elenydd Wilderness Trust (www.elenydd-hostels.co.uk), which set itself up purely to save this and nearby Dolgoch hostels. Having learnt that he had no-one staying that night, and with the fee being £12 a head (or £6 to camp) it seemed rude not to give him some custom. We were only going to walk on another couple of miles anyway, and we were already a mile and a half beyond the original plan.
The location is truly stunning, we've been seldom without a cup of tea in hand since we arrived, and there's even been cake handed around. If you're not familiar with this area then this hostel (basic though it is) would be an excellent base to explore.
So, all in all, a very pleasing day in very nice surroundings. I've not been to this area before, but now that we've sampled it I'm sure we'll be back. Big grins all around at such a surprisingly good day!
(JJ - any hint of better weather down on the SWCP yet?
Louise - I suggested to Mick that the current poor weather was building up to a very fine May that wouldn't see any rain fall between the 11th and the 24th. He laughed.)